A girl and her cat take on the world with nothing more than a cup of tea and a good book and enough dreams to fill the universe.
Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84 has been longingly staring out at me from bookshelves across the nation. It’s always the book I pick and up and read the back of, get a feel for the weight of it in my hands, flip through a few pages, become intimately familiar with it in that meeting a stranger that you really hit it off with sense, check out the horrendous price tag, realize I could invest in that relationship, but the book never makes it out the door with me.
During Christmas break, I was driving to Missouri with my 6 foot sister and my tall parents. They had all limited me to three hardcover books and my iPad. I was trying to decide what to load up on my kindle the night before departure when I realized that this would be the ideal time for me to get to know 1Q84. I went to the kindle store, prepared to purchase this book, when I realized that Haruki Murakami is a prolific writer. Now, I had to confront so many new and different choices. I had to read reviews. I was sucked down the rabbit hole of buying books online. Finally, I made my choice. 1Q84 would remain on the proverbial shelf and I would read What I Talk About When I Talk About Running.
It was a short memoir of Haruki Murakami’s life where he tied together three main themes: getting older, running, and writing. Very quickly into this memoir, I realized a few things. Haruki Murakami is an incredible person. He runs at least one marathon a year. He runs at least an hour a day every day at ten-minute mile pace (I’m not kidding). He writes for hours every day and writes pretty much a new novel every year and has since he turned thirty. The man is superhuman and I don’t think I’ll ever be on the same level he is at having my life together, but then again, I am only 23.
One thing in particular stuck out to me in his writing. He believes that to be an excellent writer, one has to be open to so much darkness and horribleness of human spirit that one must maintain a healthy balance in some other part of their life. He does this in his dedication to running, clean eating, and sleep schedule. It’s the idea of being strong in one part of your life so that you can do battle daily in another. When I think back to my literature classes, I sometimes think that he must be horribly mistaken. The Western literary giants, for the most part, were a hot mess. They drank and contracted venereal diseases, cheated on their wives, smoked cigars, fought depression, sailed on whaling vessels, looked for gold in the Yukon. These are not people who had their lives together. These are people who tended to burn brightly for short amount of time, or hide their emotional pain for years and years until they finally fall apart, with a few exceptions.
Murakami’s writing made me reconsider my own life and role as a writer. Here I am, at the beginning of a new year, rededicating myself to writing regularly. I don’t have book or a major project I’m working on. I’m merely trying to write more, to apply my mind to the paper. I run regularly and try to eat healthy, but I am also okay with being a bit of a mess at 23. Perhaps I’m not ready to do battle with the worst of human nature yet, or perhaps my method is different, but Murakami’s writing definitely gave me something to think about and, who knows, maybe I’ll finally buy a copy of 1Q84 this year.
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No One Here But a Writer Who Gets Up and Try
Brian Marggraf, Author of Dream Brother: A Novel, Independent publishing advocate, New York City dweller
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Stefan Falke photographs artists who live and work along the 2000 miles long U.S.- Mexico border to document the vibrant culture of the region on both sides. All photos © Stefan Falke (use with written permission by the author only)